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16/11/2012: GK Founder Urges FilAms to Contribute to PH Growth

16 November 2012

Washington, DC.  – To end poverty for 5 million poor families by 2024.  This is the vision of Gawad Kalinga (GK), whose founder Tony Meloto spoke at a reception yesterday at the Philippine Embassy hosted by GK U.S.A. National Capital Region Director Ben Dichoso and Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Cuisia.

The friendship of Meloto and Ambassador Cuisia can be traced to the Ambassador’s stint as former CEO of Philamlife and the company’s involvement with the GK movement.

“Gawad Kalinga is about seeing light during periods of darkness,” Meloto said.  “Its goal is to go to the most dangerous areas and make them safer.  Ambassador Cuisia himself went to rebel-infested areas, when he led Philamlife in building villages in Mindoro and Payatas.”

“Tony is a true visionary and a recipient of countless awards for his work on community development and uplifting the plight of the poor and homeless,” Cuisia said.  “While Gawad Kalinga is best known for its housing projects, it has evolved to encompass other noteworthy areas including child and youth development, community building, environment, food sufficiency, health, and infrastructure.”

The Ambassador also thanked Meloto for serving as a gracious host to the inaugural corps of the Filipino American Youth Leadership Program (FAYLP) at the Gawad Kalinga’s Enchanted Farm in Bulacan last July.  According to Angela Lagdameo, a FAYLP delegate at the reception, “the experience allowed us to have a tangible idea of the ways that social entrepreneurship can be successful in the Philippines.”

Meloto asked that Filipinos start by changing themselves.  “It is shameful that the Philippines remains poor.  We are rich in talent and resources, so we shouldn’t be.  Poverty was manmade, so there is no reason that it cannot be unmade by man,” Meloto said.

Meloto said he is encouraged that the Philippines now has a trusted leader and a competent cabinet.   He cited the positive developments in the country’s economy, including growth rates second only to China and an appreciating currency, and how the Philippines has become the best place for social business.

Meloto and Gawad Kalinga have bagged a string of accolades of late, including awards from Reader’s Digest, Ernst and Young, Japan’s Nikkei, the World Economic Forum, and the World Entrepreneurship Forum.  (END)

16 November 2012

Tony Meloto speaks about the Gawad Kalinga movement before members of the Filipino American community during a reception at the Philippine Embassy on November 15, 2012.